The aerospace and defense industry continues to be a hotbed of patent innovation. Activity is driven by the pressing need for modernization, and the growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and unmanned systems. In the last three years alone, there have been over 237,000 patents filed and granted in the aerospace and defense industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Internet of Things in defense: LiDAR solid state photodetectors. Buy the report here.

Smarter leaders trust GlobalData

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilizing and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

110 innovations will shape the aerospace and defense industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the aerospace and defense industry using innovation intensity models built on over 206,000 patents, there are 110 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, satellite-based positioning, GPS augmentation, and LiDAR-sonar fusion are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. LiDAR weather forecasting, coherent LiDAR imaging, and LiDAR solid state photodetectors are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing.

Innovation S-curve for Internet of Things in the aerospace and defense industry

LiDAR solid state photodetectors is a key innovation area in Internet of Things

Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distances. A photodetector is an electronic component that absorbs light energy and generates a proportional electric current or voltage. In LiDAR systems, solid-state photodetectors are used to detect the returning laser light and measure the distance of objects.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 50+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established aerospace and defense companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of LiDAR solid state photodetectors.

Key players in LiDAR solid state photodetectors – a disruptive innovation in the aerospace and defense industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of applications identified for each patent. It broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.  

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of countries each patent is registered in. It reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to LiDAR solid state photodetectors

Company Total patents (2021 - 2023) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Toppan 2 Unlock Company Profile
Valeo 7 Unlock Company Profile
Alphabet 56 Unlock Company Profile
Robert Bosch Stiftung 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hexagon 7 Unlock Company Profile
Apple 24 Unlock Company Profile
Commonwealth of Australia 2 Unlock Company Profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 2 Unlock Company Profile
CEA 5 Unlock Company Profile
Vantiva 3 Unlock Company Profile
Honda Motor 3 Unlock Company Profile
Intellectual Ventures Management 25 Unlock Company Profile
Panasonic 33 Unlock Company Profile
Canon 27 Unlock Company Profile
Becton Dickinson and 8 Unlock Company Profile
Winbond Electronics 8 Unlock Company Profile
ams 2 Unlock Company Profile
ON Semiconductor 5 Unlock Company Profile
Infineon Technologies 6 Unlock Company Profile
Zimmer Biomet 4 Unlock Company Profile
Sony Group 284 Unlock Company Profile
Stanley Electric 10 Unlock Company Profile
LG 2 Unlock Company Profile
STMicroelectronics 29 Unlock Company Profile
Denso 17 Unlock Company Profile
Continental 2 Unlock Company Profile
Toshiba 55 Unlock Company Profile
Nikon 4 Unlock Company Profile
Seiko Epson 5 Unlock Company Profile
Hamamatsu Photonics KK 149 Unlock Company Profile
Sick 2 Unlock Company Profile
pmdtechnologies 9 Unlock Company Profile
Velodyne LiDAR 6 Unlock Company Profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 50 Unlock Company Profile
Samsung Group 51 Unlock Company Profile
ESPROS Photonics 6 Unlock Company Profile
3DEO 3 Unlock Company Profile
Hesai Photonics Technology 2 Unlock Company Profile
Ouster 88 Unlock Company Profile
Shenzhen Goodix Technology 21 Unlock Company Profile
TriEye 18 Unlock Company Profile
Will Semiconductor 13 Unlock Company Profile
Sense Photonics 5 Unlock Company Profile
Artilux 15 Unlock Company Profile
Omron Tateisi Electronics 4 Unlock Company Profile
Ace Kai Hynix 1 Unlock Company Profile
Hi 10 Unlock Company Profile
The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission 1 Unlock Company Profile
Aeluma 9 Unlock Company Profile
SK Square 24 Unlock Company Profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Hamamatsu Photonics is one of the leading patent filers in LiDAR solid state photodetectors. It was recently granted a patent for a distance sensor that can measure a distance to an object by repeatedly irradiating light to an object and detecting reflected light from the object. The semiconductor substrate of the sensor includes a photosensitive region to generate charges corresponding to the amount of the reflected light. Charges from the photosensitive region are collected in separate charge collection regions, and the distance to the object is measured based on the difference in charge amount between the storage nodes.

The company offers a range of photodetector products, including silicon avalanche photodiodes (APD), silicon positive-intrinsic-negative (PIN) and indium gallium arsenide (InGaAs) photodiodes, and near-infrared, high-sensitivity surface-mount multipixel photon counters (MPPC) for time-of-flight (TOF) and frequency-modulated continuous-wave (FMCW) LiDAR systems.

Some other key patent filers in this space include Samsung, Aeluma, and Toshiba.

In terms of application diversity, Nikon, TriEye, and Shenzhen Goodix Technology are some of the leading innovators. By means of geographic reach, some of the leading patent filers include Alphabet, Apple, and Semiconductor Energy Laboratory.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the aerospace and defense industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Aerospace & Defense.

Data Insights


The gold standard of business intelligence.

Blending expert knowledge with cutting-edge technology, GlobalData’s unrivalled proprietary data will enable you to decode what’s happening in your market. You can make better informed decisions and gain a future-proof advantage over your competitors.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.